My cast had no idea what was in store for them at our first rehearsal. They don’t know each other that well yet and they don’t know me that well, either. Would it be a disaster? The daunting unknown stretched out ahead of them. Trepidation quickly dissipated by some tea, flapjacks and games, we ploughed on and reached the end of the day. Or so we thought. Now they knew what they were in for, they wanted to stay. And stay we did – to sing through the entire show. But, as the realisation set in that they’d be singing their solos in front of each other for the first time, I saw Fear fall across the face of one of my cast members.
He has developed a phobia of one top G. He hits it with ease in other numbers but the final note of one particular song is terrifying him. I watched Fear strike him and watched him decide to give in to it. He didn’t sing the note despite being more than capable of it and it occurred to me that if he hadn’t been afraid he would have belted it out with no problem. So is it really true to say that there is nothing to fear but Fear itself?
While he was scared of sounding flat, I, on the other hand, feared falling flat on my face. As the rehearsal approached, I constructed a detailed and focused plan for the day. I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve and exactly how I was going to achieve it. With suitable amounts of caffeine in my system, I was duly prepared for the day ahead. Or was I? First rehearsal. New cast. Huge show. It could be a disaster. And then I’d have the colossal mountain of recovery to climb with a cast who have no faith in me. If the cast don’t believe in the director, where can you possibly go? Endless disagreements and a lack of belief in the show ensue. Rehearsals go round in circles. Yet fretting about attaining the cast’s trust can inhibit it altogether. A cast can smell fear. And the slightest hint of it on the director will make them shut down.
Aside from dubious casts, taking a show up to the Edinburgh Festival is a scary prospect. Months and months of work before you even board the train, let alone the financial pressure, means it is a massive undertaking and one that is pretty easy to shy away from. But the pros far outweigh the cons (trust me, I have made a list) – the exposure it offers, an opportunity to see a plethora of comedy, theatre, music and dance… How could you argue with that? You can’t… the Fear might try its best, but we overcome it and board that fast-approaching train with the confidence that we will succeed. If you don’t believe in your show, who will?
So as the top G crept up and I watched Fear engulf my actor, like a wave knocking a surfer off their board, I knew he wouldn’t do it. But he will do it. He will overcome the Fear and hit that note because he can. The only thing stopping him is the Fear. Because at the end of the day, what’s the worst that could happen?